It’s been a good past couple of months for CHH, we’ve seen great steps towards building awareness for the community and developing a wider reach, and that’s both here in the UK and overseas.
Recently we saw the culmination of Christian Rapper Flame’s real name (Marcus Gray) lawsuit with Pop Superstar Katy Perry regarding the misuse of the music copyright for his track Joyful Noise which featured Lecrae. Her song Dark Horse with overt occult overtones resembled similar chords patterns and beat arrangement which was intrinsically similar to flames track.
The lawsuit had been ongoing for over 5 years. A jury has found that Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse,” copied a 2009 Christian rap song. The nine-member federal jury in Los Angeles returned the unanimous verdict Monday, July 29, 2019.
All four corporations that released and distributed the songs were liable, including Perry and Sarah Hudson, who wrote only the song’s words, and Juicy J, who only wrote the rap he provided for the song.
“Dark Horse,” a hybrid of pop, trap and hip-hop sounds that was the third single of Perry’s 2013 album “Prism,” spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2014, and earned a Grammy nomination for Perry, who performed the song during her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show.
Perry’s lawyer Christine Lepera said;
“They’re trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone.”
The original record raked in a whopping $41 million. However, an agreement entered into court on Tuesday states that Perry only pocketed $3.2 million from “Dark Horse,” while incurring $800,000 in costs.
The bulk of the penalty phase will focus on Capitol Records, whose attorneys say the label earned $31 million from the song but after costs, its profits were a mere $630,000.
Katy Perry and her collaborators at her record label have to pay $2.78 million after a federal jury found the pop star copied one of her hit songs.
Gray’s attorney, Michael A. Kahn said;
“We weren’t here seeking to punish anyone, our clients came here seeking justice, and they feel they received justice from a jury of their peers.”
Perry herself was hit for just over $550,000, with Capitol Records responsible for the biggest part of the award — $1.2 million. Defence attorneys had argued for an overall award of about $360,000.
Perry’s attorney, Christine Lepera, said they plan to vigorously fight the decision.
“The writers of Dark Horse consider this a travesty of justice,” Lepera said.
Lepera, Perry’s attorney, said outside court that the plaintiffs presented no evidence of copyright infringement, no evidence that the songwriters had access to “Joyful Noise” and no evidence the songs that were substantially similar.
“The only matter in common is an unprotectable C and a B note, repeated,” Lepera said. “We’ve been receiving outcry from people all over the world, including other musicologists.”
It was a great victory not only for the underdog who has limited resources and pedigree to fight such a long and arduous case but for Christian Rap which was plastered all over the headlines. I think, in a single-handed swoop, this ruling has put Christian Rap on the map like no other artist before it.
If you didn’t know, now you do.
I had to give it some time to check all the sources of information before making my conclusion on this point. I look at this situation with both eyes to see a great win for CHH but also equally an awakening to the reality of the music business and the realisation that the road can run both ways.
Have we drawn first blood?
In my article “Does outreach, at times, damage our music” we as Christians Rappers use similar sounds from secular inspired sources to help us reach the “lost”, how close to the line do we play it at times.
Are we conscious of copyright issues with leasing beats? Working exclusively with Producers? Or the sampling of outline music?
Questions; that if asked, would make many stumble. There is a light that has been slowly moving onto our scene and all that is there will be exposed.
There is plagiarism from both sides, wherever that may be. There are conflicts in our camp and the real intentions and motives. As we celebrate this win, let’s also take inventory that highlight to keep our house is in order, so as the bible says;
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.